On Friday [May 25] Premier Paula Cox tabled the second phase of the Good Governance legislation in the House of Assembly.
The Bill makes provision for Ministers to be appointed to hear an application or appeal on behalf of another Minister who has a conflict of interest and to extend whistle blower protection.
The bill also seeks to increase the period within which offences can be prosecuted, and to create an offence of collusion whereby parties seek to improperly exert influence in order to obtain a contract.
Mr Moniz said, “Just as it is right for parents to make sure their children live by the rules, citizens expect their government to do the same.
“On Friday, the Premier introduced good governance legislation in the House of Assembly saying the new rules would ensure ‘abuses will be a thing of the past.’
“While the legislation is part of the Premier’s pre-election effort to separate her government from past practices, the OBA supports any efforts that end the abuses that have done so much to harm Bermuda’s reputation and people’s confidence in their government.
“But there is an important point to make about the Premier’s pre-election make-over, and it was contained in Thursday’s warning by the Auditor General that public officials would continue abusing public funds until they are held to account,” continued Mr Moniz.
“Ms Matthews pointed to the case of Kyril Burrows and Delcina Bean-Burrows, who stole more than $500,000 from the public purse over a period of five years.
“She said the Works & Engineering manager should have been fired seven years ago when it emerged he’d used his Government credit card to spend more than $30,000 on personal items.
“The Auditor General noted that those who turned a blind eye to the couple’s continuing thefts still hold senior positions in Government.
“If the Premier is truly committed to separating herself from her own government’s record, then she needs to change her own ways.
“As Ms Matthews observed, the Premier already had the power as Finance Minister to bring charges against public officials responsible for improper use of public money.
“In short, there is no point to having rules if you do not enforce them,” said Mr Moniz.
“As OBA leader Craig Cannonier has said: ‘The reality is you can have all the rules you want, but if you’re not going to follow them there is no accountability and Bermuda is never going to have a government people can trust.’
“The Premier can pass all the legislation she wants. But until she and her Government get serious about stopping financial misconduct, it will continue.
“At the end of the day, good governance comes down to people – people obeying the rules and people enforcing the rules. It’s about leadership and ethics. That’s the glue that will ensure the public interest and the public purse is protected at all times,” concluded Mr Moniz.